Playoffs jackpot remains a lure for six teams
Stoke have one more chance to consolidate their place among the top four of the Car Company Nelson Bays division one championship when they play their final round-robin match tomorrow at Riwaka.
Galbraith Group Nelson have long since cemented the top qualifiers' berth, and head into tomorrow's bye with a remarkable 30-point lead. That still leaves all six remaining teams with mathematical chances of making the playoffs, with just four points separating second-placed Accessman Stoke and sixth-placed Star and Garter Waimea Old Boys.
Even Enza Riwaka, seventh on 16 points, are in with a shout, provided they can get past a Stoke team buoyed by an impressive recent run of form.
Stoke have the final-round bye, and will be chasing another bonus-point victory at Cook's Reserve tomorrow at 2.30pm to give themselves a vital buffer.
New World Huia are coming off last week's bye and will host a Wakatu Hotel Marist team struggling with injuries after Marist reached the Tasman Trophy final two weeks ago.
Marist are in real danger of missing the playoffs altogether, despite having won six titles over the past 11 seasons.
They are in unfamiliar territory but still have enough experience in the side, including the likely return of key flanker Gary Redmond, to help drag themselves back into contention. The match at Sports Park Motueka starts at 3.15pm.
Taylor's Contracting Wanderers are on the slide after two consecutive heavy defeats, to Stoke and Nelson, and desperately need points tomorrow to re-energise their campaign.
Wanderers are right on the cut line, and with an equally desperate Waimea side awaiting them at Jubilee Park, they face an anxious two weeks.
Waimea are starting to gather some traction and are likely to base their game around an impressive set of forwards. Kickoff is at 3pm.
Nelson Bays championship:
- The Nelson Mail